chapter  1
16 Pages

The festive machine: Taiwan’s 2004 elections as popular culture ko yufen

Political democratization in Taiwan was underway by the mid-1990s, when non-Kuomintang (KMT) political leaders began to coordinate their electioneering activities in local elections under the loose coalition of the Tangwai Campaign Corporation. After the lifting of the 40-year Martial Law in 1987, both popular political participation and the speed of democratization picked up dramatically. Since then, island-wide elections have been held virtually once a year or more frequently. Political science scholars have found postMartial Law Taiwan an ideal lab to investigate voting behaviors, public opinion surveys, and campaign strategies. Most critical discourses on Taiwanese elections have highlighted two issues: ethnic identities and nationalism. Ethnic politics is not defined by skin color or race because all the groups involved are Han-Chinese; the non-Chinese aboriginals are so marginalized in this society that they are not heard in the ethnic confrontations. ‘Ethnicity’ is roughly defined by language: the largest group, the Min-nan speakers vs. the second largest group, the Mandarin speakers.1 The third ethnic/language group, Hakka, has strategically negotiated and cooperated with the larger two, so as to gain more resources and maintain political purchase.